Diocese of Ogdensburg

The Roman Catholic Church in Northern New York

Displaying a Nativity scene in your home is a loved Christmas tradition for many Christian families. The Nativity scene tradition originated with St. Francis of Assisi in the year 1223 on Christmas Eve. A nativity scene, also called a crib, crèche, or manger scene, refers to any depiction of the birthplace of Jesus. Smaller sets have only a stable with Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, and various farm animals. Larger sets include shepherd boys, lambs, and the Three Wise Men. Traditionally, the figures in the nativity set are added gradually to recount the historical Christmas story. On December 24th the Baby Jesus is placed in the manger, and the following days the shepherds are added. On January 6th, Three Kings Day, the magi are also added near the manger scene. It is customary to keep the Nativity set on display until February 2nd, which is the end of the Epiphany.